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Jakarta Post

Thailand's Mr Bean plays jails for laughs


    Agence France-Presse

Bangkok, Thailand   /   Wed, February 14, 2018   /   02:30 pm
 Thailand's Mr Bean plays jails for laughs This photo taken on February 8, 2018 shows Mongkol Preechajan, 43, practising expressions for the camera before performing for prison inmates as the popular British TV comedy character Mr. Bean, in the central Thai province of Nakhon Nayok. (Agence France -Presse/Lilian Sunwarumpha)

With the signature red tie, brown blazer, briefcase and teddy bear, a Thai computer technician has become a national sensation through his uncanny Mr Bean impersonations that are tickling a country that loves slapstick comedy.

Mongkol Preechajan, a 43-year-old father from Phuket with more than a passing resemblance to the British character played by Rowan Atkinson, shot to fame after trying out the miming routine on the popular "Thailand's Got Talent" TV show in 2016.

The video went viral -- one YouTube clip has been watched over five million times -- turning Mongkol into an overnight celebrity in a country where Mr Bean is among the most popular foreign comic turns, in part because his speechless routines cut through language barriers.

Now Mongkol tours Thailand performing sketches and posing for selfies as the famously buffoonish character. 

Mongkol said his fascination with Mr Bean started as a teenager, when he became a fan of the British show and the character's "cheeky and cute personality".

He has since spent hours twisting his face and arching his eyebrows in front of a mirror to hone Mr Bean's trademark expressions. 

"It's quite hard because Mr Bean doesn't speak and only communicates through his facial expressions and his body movements -- that was really hard to practise," Mongkol told AFP.

In addition to Bangkok comedy gigs and TV spots, the newfound celebrity is also performing at jails around the country in a bid to brighten up prison life.

A recent performance brought him to Nakhon Nayok province, where hundreds of inmates roared with laughter as he jittered around the stage with his iconic teddy bear. 

"There were a lot of laughs," one inmate told AFP after the show. "It has lightened up the mood here a lot."